Apologies it’s been a while since I posted anything- IBM work and life suddenly sped up!
Back in June I had the opportunity to get involved with ThinkIT, an event run by IBM to encourage young girls to be interested in studying STEM subjects. There is still a huge gap between the amount of women working in the tech industry and this is a subject I am extremely passionate about. A friend of mine was part of the organisation team and informed me of the event earlier in the year. Given my previous interest and work with the Girls Who Can team it was obvious to me that this was a fantastic opportunity to share my having studied IT and working in the tech industry with young girls. Various two day sessions were being run across the country at IBM sites and volunteers were needed to run the groups of girls.
The event I chose to help with was a two day event in Hursley where I would be a team lead for a group of six girls- each from different schools. There were a series of challenges and activities to work through daily with the teams, composing of a variety of themes such as web design, design thinking, team building games and marketing.
I knew there would likely be a decent variety in what the girls would already know about IT and I was determined to make the subject accessible and fun and to get everyone in my group participating. We began with a fun ice breaker to introduce the girls to the concept of thinking like a programmer. I had to act like a robot and have the girls instruct me how to make a jam sandwich. It was my job to be as difficult as possible to get the girls to really think about what a computer could understand and how they needed to define variables, such as what the jam was! After a bit my group really got the concept and we successfully made a sandwich.
The rest of the first day comprised of a basic wiring session, where the girls got to learn how to wire up and then program a card reader, a fun design thinking session where we came up with a smart criminal catching concept we’d later be working on and presenting and a brilliant murder mystery challenge which focused on logic and code cracking. All the while it was my responsibility to provide support and teach the concepts to the girls. We had overall presentations given before the group sessions but I still needed to be able to answer questions and help with the challenges. I greatly enjoyed sharing my IT knowledge with the girls in such a fun and accessible way and it was great to get them thinking about future careers at IBM.
The second day focused more on marketing and then making a mock web page for our project. We would then we having an ‘expo’ where all teams presented their ideas at the end of the day. The girls had bonded more by the second day and a lot of great ideas were going about!
IBM is very proud of its ThinkIT event and with good reason- it is a vital focus on the next generation and getting them interested in technical careers- especially at IBM. After all, if young people don’t know about IBM and what we do, how will they know they can get involved with placements and schemes!
I was very keen to contribute to sharing my knowledge with the teenage girls and greatly enjoyed the event and the opportunity it gave me. This was a fantastic knowledge sharing opportunity and I had great feedback from my group who told me I should be an IT teacher because i’d make the subject fun!
I definitely hope to get involved with ThinkIT again next year!
-Ruth, Technical Consultant@IBM